Is it a crime to possess a fifth wheel device?

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Trucks and tractor units can pull some of the largest and heaviest semi-trailers thanks to a component called the fifth wheel. The fifth wheel is a coupling device that secures a trailer to the back of a truck while allowing the trailer to turn as the vehicle goes around a corner.

Although these devices are harmless on their own, possessing or modifying one to fit on a vehicle for personal use is a crime in Florida. This is because the coupling parts used in trailers are standardized, so anyone with a fifth wheel can hook a trailer to their vehicle to steal the cargo.

Unlawful possession or use of a fifth wheel

According to Florida law, it’s illegal for persons to modify, alter, sell, possess or deliver a fifth wheel onto the state’s highways, especially if the coupling is modified to allow the user to commit cargo theft. Violating this law is a felony of the second degree.

Penalties for unlawful possession of a fifth wheel

If a person is convicted of possessing, modifying or selling a fifth wheel, they face up to 15 years of imprisonment and $10,000 in fines. This is the same penalty levied on persons convicted of aggravated battery or burglary of a dwelling.

Yes, possessing or using a fifth wheel for anything but commercial use is a crime. The penalties for such an offense are also surprisingly severe, with more than a decade of prison awaiting those convicted. Those who face charges should carefully consider their legal options.